She Asked For Me

I want you to think a moment about your kids’ or grandchildren’s sports, choir, band, dance, karate, school, drama, orchestra and end of school year awards events.

You spend weeks ahead of time helping them practice, making sure that they have all the supplies, clothing, equipment they might need. 
On the day of, you feed them a healthy meal, have them take showers, get a good night’s sleep. 
You drive them where they need to be, loaded with water bottles, snacks, gear…
You get there on time {or early} so that you are certain not to miss a moment. So that your child KNOWS without a moment’s doubt, that their PERSON is there. Someone looking out at them from that audience/crowd LOVES them. Triumph or Failure, someone out there loves them, and thinks that they are the stars, the sun and that the moon all put together. Win or lose, there will be hug waiting. 
But what if a child has no one? A child whose family has done the unthinkable to them. A child who will look out at an audience jam packed with families. Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts… everyone there with someone who loves them…. A child who diligently goes to school, but returns home to a bunk among 60 other bunks. Not alone, but alone. A child who will go to bed with no one to celebrate them. As if she never achieved anything. 
That wasn’t the story last night for a girl I love. Something beautiful happened last night and it was an honor I will never forget with my “Jane.” When I came for a visit last week, she told me there was going to be a dinner show for her school. She begged me to come and said “I really, really, really want you there.” She’s 17 years old, an age when many teens don’t want to even admit they have a mom, let alone be seen with one. But she needed a mom, a family to celebrate her last night. We came, we ate, we sat on plastic chairs for 4 hours of traditional El Salvador dances, singing, comedy we didn’t understand, an unusual raffle process and the crowning of a 2nd grade princess for the year.
It was all worth it for the moment she saw me waiting at our table. 
“They said you were here and I could hardly believe it!! I ran right over to see you! I can’t believe you came! I am so, so happy!!!”
She has been let down her entire life, and of course she expected nothing from me. Of course. 
“I’m so nervous” she nervously said with a shake in her voice.
“You’re going to be fantastic” I assured her. “You’ve practiced so much, and I will be watching. I’m so excited to hear you sing!!!”
Simple words, that come naturally to most moms. Simple words that hold a lot of weight when you normally have no one to say them to you. I told her she looked beautiful, and that I was so happy to be there with her. 
And when she took to that stage I had butterflies in my belly for her just as I would for my flesh and blood kids. And I snapped picture after picture, with a huge mile plastered to my face. We all clapped louder and harder at the end than anyone in the audience. 
And when she saw me from the stage…… with a huge grin on her face……. oh my. 
Honor. I was so honored that she asked me to be her person. When the Bible says to care for the orphan, we often think the command solely means 
 “care for their physical needs.”
But what if it means so much more than that? To love. To show up. To be a family.
What if doing just one is not enough. What if Jesus asks us all someday, did you care for the orphan? And we say “yes, we fed them and clothed them Lord.”
What if He says, 
“What if I only fed and clothed you?
What if I didn’t sacrifice a happy, perfect life, for people so un-deserving of my sacrifice?”
What if I didn’t die to make you my family?
She asked for me. My heart will never be the same. 

Return to InstaFriday!

Its been a long time since I posted a simple, care free blog post. To take the time to remember the little, happy, peaceful moments that needed to be snagged (on instagram) is so important. I think this is my first InstaFriday from El Salvador. Man  life was different when I first started joining in on Jeannett’s idea! I’m marijmarks if you want to follow along on our adventures. Plus, Jeannett reminded us all this week that we don’t have to have a perfectly crafted blog and/or post to be relevant. Plus my Grandpa has been missing the regular stuff.
Last week was a whole lot of recovering from chikungunya for Izzy, a nasty bronchitis for Addison, and the usual stomach things for the rest of us. So it feels good to take a look back at some happy. Plus I got to see my  “Jane” at the orphanage yesterday. Which is always good.

We got a HUGE shipment of spanish books from my sister’s Kindergarten class in Minnesota. The students each added a Spanish version of a book to their Scholastic Book orders and blessed our Nutrition and Development Center kids immensely!!! Kids in the U.S. + Kids in El Salvador = Awesome.  Now they have books to read for the fist time ever. I’m serious. First ever. There are no libraries and no books stores. None.
Banana Smiles 🙂
Hello gorgeous. 
I love our movie nights. I love “God’s Not Dead” in Spanish. I love how excited they get about free popcorn. Sharing Jesus. Its the why in all of this craziness.
Because El Salvador. That’s how we roll here… with little blond heads out the moon roof and little boy tushy in my face….
Except only when we are stuck for an hour behind a parade. He thought he was pretty awesome. And didn’t draw a bit of attention….. in case you were wondering, his little blond self is ALWAYS drawing attention. Its hard to miss an uber white kid, who is always in the middle of some sort of Star Wars/Avengers/Ninja Turtle battle.
And then he was tackled by some guys from our World Race team, his sister and some friends. Which is Donovan’s love language. And in case you were curious, there were 10 people in this 6 person SUV. 
Have a wonderful weekend!

Beautiful Moments

My kids are having what can only be described as a wildly crazy, adventurous, hot, sweaty, hard, sad, once in a lifetime experiences.

We knew when we started out that this time, how ever long, here in El Salvador would be something that would stay with them for a life time. But we didn’t quite realize how much their world would be shook.  Their world view had been shattered, and a new one, a better one, wider one, grander, has replaced it.  Children in the United States grow up in such a bubble. I am so thankful that my kids have this opportunity to have their eyes really, truly opened.  I think their hearts have grown 3 sizes, they understand poverty like never before. They have an understanding and willing hearts to sacrifice of themselves, serve and give to others.
So this post is devoted to my kids. You’ve seen my perspective, so now you get to share in some of the experiences that have popped up in between doing ministry. Please do not go away from reading this thinking that we are on some sort of long term vacation. Because we ABSOLUTELY 100% are not! When you all sacrifice of your paychecks to give us support money to do ministry, it goes 100% to doing just that. 
Tomorrow’s post will show you some of the fruits of our work, but this one is about the little blessings that have popped up for our kids. Because they gave up a lot moving from the U.S., God has proven himself faithful to my kids. 
When you live in a place that is home to ancient civilizations, that is near the equator, you naturally have access to all kinds of new adventures in the down time! Every once in a while I take a step back and marvel that they are having these crazy awesome experiences!!
We had to leave the country to renew our visas, and it coincided with my cousin’s wedding at the YWAM base in Belize. My littlest daughter and son literally spent 3 days playing with sand. No buckets, toys etc. Just sand. Sand.
What can only be described as a middle of nowhere-jungle/swamp hotel-opening scene in a horror film where idiot family wanders deep into the jungle in search of a hotel…. where everyone watching is yelling “STOP! How can you be so dumb! Go back!!!!!!!”
Spoiler alert- it turned out okay and we did not disappear forever in Guatamala like I feared would happen if we went down the above pictured bridge. I will tell you the story someday.
We were on our way back from Belize when we happened upon this particular life event. And in so doing, discovered that there was a for real castle near by. It was build by Spanish conquistadors, in order to fend off pirates who might want to steal the gold that they were stealing from the Mayans!  How cool is that?! Well, probably more cool for us than for the Mayans.
I also learned something important about myself…. apparently I have a thing for doorways and windows…
Then there was that time we went on a hike with only 3 water bottles because it was billed as a 3 km hike to a beautiful waterfall…..
6 hours, and a police escort later we emerged from our “relaxing” hike to a local La Libertad waterfall, a little dazed and confused.
There have been armadillos…
Volcano hikes… minus police ….
Magnificent Colonial time cathedrals and Mayan ruins, watching giant waves crash, times with friends, swimming and finding blue and purple coral reefs, but none of that holds a candle to yesterday.
Visiting the home of two of our girls. Nothing holds a candle to seeing my children in that setting. Overlooking the stark, destitute house of this family.  The distended bellies didn’t matter to them, the bare feet or the naked little ones. They ran and played, and  rode a bike, held hands, held on laps…. just loved.
We have tears. And hard days. Sometimes we want to come running back to the U.S. Some days my kids want their old lives back. So do I. But this is the great big  “Why” of it all. Its so my kids can be Jesus with skin on. So I can hug a mom and become friends, like you do when you share a moment in your home. So we could look past everything they didn’t have and just see them. So that Alex could chat with a man fighting for the survival of his family.  That’s the why.
These beautiful moments.